Learning to Draw

“I can’t draw. You have to be born with artistic talent in order to draw.”

“Anyone can learn to draw.”

Which of these statements is true? A year ago, I would’ve said the first statement applied to me, but I decided to scour the internet for some drawing tutorials, just to see if I could learn to draw anyway. Turns out, I could, but I stick by my belief that I wasn’t “born” with the talent. 

The following made all the difference:

  • A good instructor/tutorial
  • The right materials
  • The ability to listen, observe, then implement 

The above is my very first charcoal drawing. I was surprised it turned out, but I love it. 

After I finished the original, I preserved it with a fixative spray. Next, I photographed it, then applied a bit of digital wizardry for some variety.  I used apps like PhotoLab Pro and Snapseed. 
Think you can’t draw? 

Think again!


Lady With No Name

It bugs me.

I drew her so I should know who she is, but I don’t. It was the first portrait I ever sketched, and I think her likeness came out of a book, but I didn’t care for her much. Her right eye looked wonky and her nose was overshadowed. I tucked her away and forgot about her. She stayed there, for 28 years.


portrait of an 80's lady.jpeg

Original Sketch

About three months ago, I resurrected her from my old sketch pad. Now that I have learned to use an image editor and filters, I’ve given my gal a whole new life. Now she’s been passed around my Facebook friends, some volunteering to give her name; Jessica (after Jessica Tandy), Lois, Alexa, Ivanka, Meryl, Andrea. Can you see how the political climate, and my diverse group of friends, came up with such suggestions?!

Whatever name she ends up with, I’ll always remember her as the woman who patiently waited until I got back to her. I still have a long way to go, when it comes to drawing portraits, but hopefully the next one won’t take so long.

lady portrait final.jpg

After a digital nose and eye job

Vintage Tiles

If you catch Netflix’s Hidden Houses (Episode: Trevor Hall) you might be as intrigued with JC Edwards, as I was. He became the world’s largest tile manufacturer and shipped to America, India, Africa, etc. He even produced tiles for the Titanic, and the London Underground.

These came from demolition and were uninstalled in Uruguayan cities where they were used in great profusion in the early 20th century.

Now these tiles live in Seattle, after we were able to find a seller on Bonanza. Super easy transaction and a great vendor. 


jce on tile.jpg

The Season of Meth

tree with crows pncl12.jpg

Ebba Sage

He got off the airplane, an electric guitar slung over his shoulder, eyes staring at the floor, and wearing some old rocker T-shirt. My parents took him in, gave him a bed, and made sure he got his G.E.D. He was 17. He was….is….my cousin.

I showed him my classical guitar. I think I played a few arpeggios for him. He seemed intrigued. When I saw him again he had learned to play a few songs on my dad’s guitar better than I had learned to play after a year of lessons. I forgave him for it, and we went off to see the DaVinci exhibit to celebrate our shared love of art. I had stopped drawing years before, to have babies, but he kept it up and took up painting.

keith's painting with leaf covering.jpg

painted by my cousin

He met a cute little blond. They got married, had the house, the two kids. It didn’t work out. He got bitter, really bitter. He would come and go, usually just showing up around the holidays, then even that stopped. I got a bad feeling. We all got a bad feeling.

We found him at a homeless camp during a frigid cold winter, his bitterness intact, irrational and delusional. He referred to the frozen dirt patch with ragged tarps, as “camping”. He had smoked infused clothes, numb feet, blackened and cracked fingers. My brother chased him down, and dragged him to a hotel. It took two showers and one bath to clean him up before putting him on a train to his sister.

All the signs for drug use were there, and mental illness. I blamed his arrogance. I blamed his artistic “genius”. I blamed his parents. I blamed his arrogance again. I cried for the waste he had made of his life, then asked God to give me the talent my cousin had squandered.

We all prayed he wouldn’t get off the train, and would make it all the way to CA. He did and his sister drove him directly to a hospital. A sinus infection, ear infections, confirmed frostbite in his feet, and the first admission of meth use. He broke down and sobbed, and agreed to therapy.

It’s a new start, but only the first step of a 100-mile walk. I hope he makes it. Either way, I asked God to let him keep his talent. He might need it someday, then I’ll draw another tree, green and lush, with all the hopes of spring, gladly drawn by my inexperienced hand.

keiths lady portrait.jpg

drawn by my cousin




50 Year Old Doll

My dad traveled to San Francisco in 1964, and brought this doll home, from China Town. She’s been my constant companion through the ups and downs of my life. I dug her out and thought it was time to put her to paper, so to speak, and give her a name, Yui.

I realize that the doll is in traditional Japanese dress, but she really did come from China Town. Was this typical in 1964? Sort of like everything is stamped with Made in China now? I have no idea.

Yui is accompanied by a jade piece from my mother-in-law’s travels, and a fan which was a gift from my Japanese exchange student, Yui, in 2001; thus the name.

The background was taken from the newspaper wrapped legs of the doll. Yui was missing her hat, so I improvised with the lens cap from my macro lens. She is complete again.

japanese doll davince19.jpg